My Lap Horse – Dolly Dimple

My Dolly Dimple


Pat Cole

               One fall I bought a royally bred old mare; an own daughter of AQHA foundation sire,  Chubby P-4 and out the great broodmare, Panzarita Daughtery.  Rio Rita was her name. She was a 20 year old horse and the dam of 13 foals,one of which, Poco Sail, had been World’s Champion Halter Mare in 1959 or ’60.

               Rio Rita was bred to Waldo Haythorn’s stallion, My Beaver by Beaver Creek and had a beautiful little sorrel filly, but was never able to get up to nurse her.  A tumor had developed on one of her ovaries and ruptured during labor.  Sadly, we were unable to save the grand old lady.

              I took that precious little filly with me to my stable and ensconced her in her very own 12×12 stall in the middle of the shed row.  Gosh, she looked tiny in that huge stall. I tried to get her to nurse a bottle with little success. . My vet advised me to “hang tough” and make her drink from a bucket due to the time and effort required to get enough milk down her using a bottle.  Those first few hours I begged her to drink…splashed milk on her nose and into her mouth.  Well, miracle of miracles, she finally got hungry enough and took a sip….. then another.  After a couple of days, she really started drinking and soon I was calling her Dolly Dimple.

               The stable was 4 or 5 miles from my home, so I got up and drove over every 4 or 5 hours all through the night to feed her.  I don’t remember how many weeks passed before she “slept through the night.”  That little devil was a real survivor.  She grew like a weed and soon I added a little wheat bran to her milk.

               As she got bigger and bigger, another problem surfaced.  Someone forgot to tell her she was a horse.  She thought she was a princess and her play got a little rough and dangerous. Every day the teenagers that kept their horses with me played with her and she thought she was a human baby. Any other horse that came by her stall scared her to death.  Then came the day for her to go out into the big old world where other horses lived.  I tried to lead her out of her stall  She planted her front feet and would not budge.  It was way too scary out there.  I coaxed….. Someone pushed ……. I pulled….. NO WAY!!  The only way I could have gotten her out of that stall was to push her over on her side and slide her out.  She won that round.

               I gave up and began leaving her stall door open all day, hoping she would get curious enough to venture out.  After about a week, I saw her peek around the edge of the stall door and cautiously she put one little hoof over the threshold.  A horse banged a water bucket against the wall,  Dolly jumped straight in the air and flew back in her stall.  Several days later I was sitting at my desk with the office door open and in she strolled.

               She lived around the barn, stuck her nose into everything, but she was still scared of other horses.  When she got tired she went back to her stall and laid down with her body in the stall and her head out in the alley way.

               Dolly was a real discipline problem because she never knew or understood she was a horse.  She was so sweet, but really a spoiled brat.  Later that year, after we moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, she lived around the house with the dogs, ate Purina Dog Chow, chased cars and slept at the back door.

               When Dolly saw a vehicle driving into the ranch, she raced down to meet it like a dog and then loped alongside with her head in the window.  With her white muzzle stained red from eating Purina Dog Chow, she argued with the dogs all the time.  Its one thing to have to kick a dog out of the way when you walk out the door and quite another to get a large filly to move.

               In the spring, I tried to move Dolly down to the alfalfa field.  I sat on the tailgate and she loped along with her head in my lap to the far side of the field.  When she dropped her head to graze, we drove like crazy and tried to beat her to the gate.  She outran us every time.

               A year later I moved back to Texas.  Dolly and my other horses went down to a friend in Denver until I found a new home in Texas for them.  I sold Dolly in the friend’s dispersal sale.  I’m sure she was a real challenge to break and train.  Not many people would put up with a “lap horse” like I did.  I learned a lot about raising orphan foals with that little gal; the most important lesson, being to treat them like a horse from the beginning and not a lap dog.

               I loved her very much, but I did her no favor by spoiling her so much.  Raising an orphan foal is a real challenge.

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